by Brandon Bell
Sitting here on this remote beach in the San Juan Island’s regarding the nearby Cascades, the mighty Mounts Baker and Rainer in my peripheral, I can’t help but consider The Book: Walden. Walden was Henry David Thoreau’s impetus on meditation and spiritual reset.
Thoreau is not a man of whom I’d agree on everything with, nor have I much use for his adolescence, (which is evident throughout the book). However the one place I believe he was on to something was in cultivating the spirit of self reliance and being well attuned with the true nature of the world. Civilization softens a man and to some degree coddles him. It gives him a sense of “If I simply do “X” and “Y” then everything will be ok”. “No need to question the rules because surely they where put into place by wise people with my best interest at heart”. But answer me this: Who watches the Watchmen?
In this overdeveloped society that we occupy, there are becoming fewer opportunities to truly disconnect and “unplug” in a remote and natural environment, and contemplate the truth of life. Modern technology is wonderful but part of me ponders whether its completely good for us, I can order my chauffeur, my date, and my dinner by smartphone with very little effort but part of me feels as though somewhere along the line we lost our way….we lost touch with our primal instincts.
Throughout antiquity Native Americans, Viking, and Masai cultures each had a rite of passage for a boy to become a man. These rites often involved becoming one with nature and surviving in the outdoors for days, weeks, or even months. They built character and toughness, and a primal understanding of nature. In experiments such as these one was able to obtain the truest measure of reality: Mother nature doesn’t act on your time, she in fact has her own plans, life is not fair, life and death may come swiftly and the only right you have is to survive by any means necessary. Then of course nature can also be gentle. There are peaceful times where happiness and joy are at it’s zenith. There are times in mother nature where you can stop and marvel at her grandeur… I missed my quarry of Orcas, for which one of these islands [Orcas Island] was named, however I did spot a porpoise. The Captain of the Ferry informed me that I had missed them by about an hour and some change, (they were headed out to sea in search of food). Such are the lessons of Nature: Nature does not act on our time. Guarantees are pure works of fiction.
As wise Solomon once said in the popular book of proverbs: One certainty of life is that you shall die. But for now, I live. As I sit here, I observe new life: Subtle hints of Spring are beginning to betray this seemingly cold weather only climate, and with it new hope. In the spring we can recreate ourselves, and I aim to do exactly that!